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Water firms risk wasting money on defunct laws

UNITED UTILITIES last week warned that it could be forced to carry out work worth £600M to comply with a European law which will be abolished in 2013.

Most of this money would have to be spent on reducing copper levels in sewage effluent to meet the requirements of the Dangerous Substances Directive.

United Utilities head of water regulation Graham Sims issued the warning at the NCE organised 'Implementing the Water Framework Directive' last week.

The Dangerous Substances Directive is to be taken off the statute in 2013 and replaced by the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

As yet no levels have been set for required levels of copper in water effluent within the WFD, which was transposed into UK legislation last month (NCE 8 January).

But the Environment Agency said it is more likely that standards in the Dangerous Substances will simply be transposed into the WFD requirements.

Plea to plan ahead

United Utilities wants Birmingham based water regulator Ofwat to let it spend £10M investigating the full requirements of the WFD.

'We put in a notional sum to allow us to effectively plan for the new directive and carry out outline optioneering in the latter part of AMP 4 (2005-2010), ' said Sims.

'But it is likely this will fall victim to the red pen in Birmingham.'

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